Surprise: 'Coal Worker' Supporting Dem. Rep Nick Rahall in Ad Is Democrat, Union Official

Surprise: 'Coal Worker' Supporting Dem. Rep Nick Rahall in Ad Is Democrat, Union Official

Having recently placed West Virginia Democrat Rep. Nick Rahall on its “endangered list,” the House Majority PAC, an arm of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is out with a new ad touting Rahall’s support of the state’s vital coal industry. The ad stars Richard Ryan, a “retired coal miner” to vouch for Rahall and slam “New York billionaires.” Ryan certainly is a retired coal miner, but he is also an elected Democrat official and a paid officer for a United Mine Workers Local 2286.

Those two data points might be of interest to voters in the Mountaineer State. 

Rep. Rahall is one of the most vulnerable incumbents facing reelection this November. His district in the southern portion of the state is rated by Cook Political Report as R+14, making it the 2nd most Republican district represented by a Democrat. (The most Republican district is being exited by retiring Democrat Rep. Jim Matheson.)

A recent Republican poll found Rahall trailing his likely Republican challenger, state Sen. Evan Jenkins, by 14 points. Obama’s disapproval rating in the district was 73%. Ryan’s union backed Obama in the election, and Ryan was even quoted in a local paper supporting Obama’s proposals to “spread the wealth” around. 

On Tuesday, Democrats’ claim that the House majority was in play this November blew up in western Florida. Increasingly, political observers are conjecturing that Republicans may pick up seats in the House this Fall. When the only “coal miner” who will vouch for embattled Democrats like Rep. Rahall are also party and union officials, the party’s election hopes look like a sinking ship.